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Monmouthshire find declared 'treasure'

Credit: National Museum Wales

A late medieval silver inscribed mount, which is over 300 years old, has been declared treasure by H.M. Coroner for Gwent.

The fragment of mount was discovered at a site thought to be near Llanbadoc, Monmouthshire by Michael Beirne of Newport in March 2014. The object was found while he was metal detecting near the river Usk.

It could be part of the grip of a sword.

I’ve been metal detecting for 15 years and this find has probably been my best one. I’d like to think that the sword, which the find may have been part of, belonged to a Welsh or English knight.

– Michael Beirne, Metal Detectorist

Airbus in partnership to build supersonic passenger jet

Credit: Aerion Corporation

More details are emerging of aircraft maker Airbus' partnership to build a supersonic passenger jet. It would be the first since Concorde.

The Aerion AS2 will fly at Mach 1.5 (or one and half times the speed of sound) saving three hours in flight time across the Atlantic.

Airbus employs 6,000 at its factory at Broughton in Flintshire.

Credit: Aerion Corporation

Airbus will provide technical assistance.. The plan is to have the first aircraft in the air by 2021 and in service two years later.

Credit: Aerion Corporation

Twenty orders for the jet have been placed by Flexjet LLC.


Food and vegetables may be 'key' to beating untreatable cancers

New research suggests 'non-toxic' chemicals taken from food and vegetables may hold the key to beating untreatable cancers and relapse.

A team of 180 scientists, from 22 countries, conducted the research Credit: PA

The global study, jointly led by Cardiff University, found that despite a number of advances, many cancer therapies are 'highly toxic' and a significant number of patients will experience a relapse just a few months after treatment.

The research was commissioned in response to this problem, and found that a mixture of non-toxic doses of chemicals taken from food and vegetables could improve patient outcomes.

We believe that carefully designed combinations of non-toxic chemicals can be developed in a manner that will maximise our chance of arresting most cancers. Currently, clinicians have a limited number of tools to help them treat the disease once it becomes resistant to mainstream therapy, but an approach that can reach a broad-spectrum of targets without toxicity offers considerable promise.

– Keith I. Block, MD, the lead-author of the paper

£2m to harness wave power

Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

One resource Wales has in abundance is the power of waves around our coast. But it isn't, as yet, being exploited.

Now £2m of EU funds has been announced to test a technology to harness energy from ocean waves.

Led by Swansea-based Marine Power Systems (MPS), the £3 million project, which includes a £900,000 investment from MPS, will manufacture and test a 1:4 scale prototype of the WaveSub device.

The device draws upon patented technology developed by MPS which captures the high power density of waves through its power take-off system, and can withstand storm forces.

The £2 million EU funds will allow the prototype to be developed and tested, paving the way for a full-scale device that will be deployed off the Pembrokeshire coast and eventually launched in the commercial market.

Marine renewable energy has huge potential and we are investing £80 million of EU funds in this area over the next six years - including support to enable the development of two demonstration zones off the coasts of Pembrokeshire and Anglesey.

This investment will vastly reduce the time, costs and risks to developers in this sector, and will help establish Wales as a leader in marine energy production

– Edwimna Hart AM, Economy Minister

Swansea team head to Antarctica

Midnight at the MIDAS field camp in 2014 Credit: Swansea University

A team of scientists from Swansea University is returning to Antarctica to study lakes under the ice.

Melt water forms lakes that have been growing on the world’s fourth largest ice shelf.

This is the second of two expeditions the first of which, in 2014, discovered frozen melt lakes up to 45m deep.

Moving camp in 2014. Credit: Swansea University

The Larsen C Ice Shelf, where the team will be based, covers an area two and half times the size of Wales.

It's the largest on the Antarctic Peninsula and scientists are keen to find out if it's changing. The formation of surface lakes is believed to have played a part in former ice shelf collapses.

Browns 'top big butterfly hunt'

Gatekeeper butterfly Credit: Butterfly Conservation

The charity Butterfly Conservation says this year's Big Butterfly Count has seen an increase in brown coloured species.

The Meadow Brown was the most commonly seen species and the butterfly saw a 51% surge in numbers compared to last year’s Count.

The Gatekeeper remained stable in numbers and although the butterfly topped the 2014 Count, this time it was pushed into second place by the Meadow Brown. The Ringlet saw a 100% increase to secure third place.

Meadow Brown. Credit: Butterfly Conservation

The average number of individual butterflies seen per Count was 12, down 18% compared to last year.

The white butterflies all suffered big decreases, as did the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, both of which were only half as abundant in Wales this summer as in the previous one.

Top ten species ranking in Wales:

  • Meadow Brown 4,808 seen
  • Gatekeeper 3,777
  • Ringlet 1,755
  • Large White 1,646
  • Small White 1,310
  • Small Tortoiseshell 1,296
  • Peacock 1,044
  • Red Admiral 974
  • Six-spot Burnet 965
  • Speckled Wood 731


Hallucinations: how they emerge

Credit: Cardiff University

Take a look at the image above. It probably looks like a meaningless pattern of black and white blotches.

But now take a look at the image below and then return to the picture: it’s likely that you can now make sense of the black and white image.

It is this ability that scientists at Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge believe could help explain why some people are prone to hallucinations.

Credit: Cardiff University

Researchers are exploring the idea that hallucinations come from our normal tendency to interpret the world around us by making use of predictions.

Our brains fill in any missing information by using past experiences.

A bewildering and often very frightening experience in some mental illnesses is psychosis – a loss of contact with external reality. Hallucinations can accompany psychosis.

Researchers showed black and white images to individuals showing the very early signs of psychosis along with healthy volunteers.

They were asked whether or not the image contained a person.

They were then shown a series of full colour original images, including those from which the black and white images had been derived.

The researchers reasoned that, since hallucinations may come from a greater tendency to superimpose one’s predictions on the world, people who were prone to hallucinations would be better at using this information.

They found a larger performance improvement in people with very early signs of psychosis in comparison to the healthy control group.

'No ceiling to girls' career success'

Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Archive/PA Images

A conference in Wrexham today will hear that women and girls must not be deterred from pursuing careers in male-dominated industries, like science, technology and engineering.

The Girls Make a Difference conference aims to show careers in less traditional roles are accessible to women in Wales.

Over 100 year 12 and 13 girls from across Wales will meet with a range of successful women - from sportspeople, to engineers and Royal Air Force programmers, to get advice and guidance on how to make it to the top in non-traditional job roles and STEM careers.

Women make up 51% of our population in Wales and it is only right we see them fulfilling their potential and helping the Welsh economy to thrive.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Communities Minister

Flood warning and alerts ahead of 'supertides'

High tides mean a large Severn Bore. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

There is one flood warning and seven flood alerts in force for parts of South and West Wales ahead of what are expected to be so-called supertides.

The high tides coincide with the Moon orbiting the Earth at its closest approach (or Perigee). That has led to this week's supermoon.

They will also lead to a strong Severn Bore.

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